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back to the living.

5 April 09

i was really, really worn out.  a year and a half of massi constantly working on these old houses (and therefore me doing all meals and cleaning and shopping and… you get the idea) and my pulling together my book proposal and all that goes along with that, and i was just beat down tired.


and then i went to africa.


for ten whirlwind days.


on the last day, i started to feel  sick.  that lasted…oh, two weeks.  with lot of things to make me even more devoid of energy than i was before.

and that’s why i haven’t been around here much lately.

so friday, while at work, i felt Productive.  it was a very strange feeling.  and yesterday, i spring cleaned and organized for a good portion of the day.  it was a very strange feeling.

i am glad to be back to the living, and glad to be writing again, and looking forward to curling up with some time in my journal this afternoon as the snow flies (!) outside, in front of the “fireplace” we found this weekend.


day one: it’s not pretty

25 February 09

i’ve been keeping notes on my consumption today, and though i don’t know that i’ve been able to stay away from certain things completely, i am Noticing them more.  with media, i seem to have a “get in get out” mentality, rather than my usual meander, linger, and downright loiter practices.

so.  you want to know how bad it is?  i’m embarrassed but it’s just not in my nature to be demure or cagey.  no no, i’m an open book whether i want to be or not.  so.  tawdry, embarrassing… but here’s the list, from 7:17 a.m. to 5:10 p.m.:

  • morning coffee.  (i wrote “duh.  7:20 a.m.”)
  • morning cigarette.  busted. 
  • radio 1 hr a.m. 88.1
  • facebook 5 minutes (at around 11, i lasted for a long time)-to check responses to my lent link.  NOTHIN.
  • wordpress 5min. 
  • lunch-gnocci mini meal with pesto and sausage, bread, fruit, water.  oatmeal because i was still hungry.
  • gmail 5 minutes, including lent devotion.
  • iHanna, 2 minutes, in which i read this:

  • “this is the only reality there is.  if you can get it down on paper, in words, notes, or color, so much the better.” -henry miller

  • $3.24 trial size big sexy hair hairspray
  • $2.50 trial size rusk pomade
  • (i’m getting a real hairstyle in 1.4 weeks)
  • $1.39 frosty, chocolate, small
  • 88.1 fm radio for 3 hours in the afternoon
  • facebook 2min
  • iGoogle 1min
  • 20min  and sooooo worth it.
  • researching crackers online 3 min.
  • mini bagel and cream cheese, quantity of which is undisclosed
  • facebook 2 min
  • diet coke
  • google checkin 1/2 min
  • FB 1/2 min
  • wordpress-oh…15 minutes we’ll say.

honestly, i don’t think anything is that embarrassing in and of itself.  it’s the amount of times i have to return to certain media, just in case anyone had said anything to me and i was missing it.  in my defense, not checking my gmail  until after noon did result in 9 emails, 7 of which were personal not junk and 4 of which required response.  but did i need to check in to FB for a hot minute every couple hours? 

i also noticed-i do these things when i’m bored.  i’m between tasks, or i’m waiting for photos to upload, or… they’re not needs but they’re addictions, distractions, bridgers between activity….


okay, let’s be honest.  here’s what i learned today:

Facebook is my trashy magazine in the checkout line.

what i’m giving up

25 February 09

i’ve been hemming and hawing about what to give up for lent.  lent has been, for the past few years for me, an important time to rethink what i do without thinking.  

two years ago, i gave up unnecessary spending.  it was an amazing time for me to realize just how much i was paying for Wants, and not just needs.  it became apparent to me that my spending was being done without thinking.

last year, i tried to give up sharing my opinions.  those of you who know me well will remember that… um… that’s basically impossible for me to do.  i was hard on myself for a while, but i realized that making myself conscious of what flew out of my mouth, even though it still often came out, made me rethink how i shared what i thought.  i often changed the way i shared, even when i didn’t stop my opinions from being shared.  i was rethinking what i was saying.

this year, i thought about giving up unnecessary internet use.  i was going to limit my personal use to 15 minutes a day.  over the past year i have discovered online television (on a bored sick day) and facebook.  both of them are sucking up much of my free time and even some of the time i should be using for necessary things like -ahem- cleaning the bathroom.  it was a good plan, a good idea, but a niggling thought kept coming up that it just wasn’t right.

i considered going back to giving up unnecessary spending, like two years ago.  that was a very fulfilling and yes challenging forty-seven days, and i remember being sad when it ended.  certain wants that i saw coming up during these days of lent made me think i’d feel like a failure-we are traveling to see friends that we need to spend time with this weekend, i’m traveling to rwanda and burundi in a few weeks, and i haven’t gotten my hair cut (other than by my own scissors) in over two years.  some of these things seemed unavoidable.  the hair cut?  well, i just didn’t want to give that up.  i found myself already cheating when i wrote my friend, a talented hairstylist, a check so i wouldn’t technically be spending that money during lent.  but more than these things, it just seemed like a repeat of what i needed two years ago and not quite hitting on what God has to teach me now.

i thought about giving up the snack bins at work.  i hit those a little too often, without thinking, and they really aren’t necessary.  but again, this seemed trite and not really what i was supposed to be learning during lent.


so what to do?  what am i supposed to be learning?  what does God want me to be conscious of this year, while we prepare to gain more understanding of the sacrifices that He made for our lives?  how was i going to learn more how much He loves us, loves me, values me and my life?

i realized, tonight as i became hyper aware of how very down and stressed i am these days, that i have allowed a lot of unhealthy, unconscious things to sneak into my life.  i lie around and chat on facebook when what i really need is a real in-person conversation with a friend (or my journal!).  i watch online television while countless amazing books sit on my shelf half-read.  i eat Crap, from those tempting little bins, when my body is asking for Real food to keep me going, to give me energy and satisfy my body’s needs.

and i do it all without thinking, without really being conscious of it all.


this year, for lent, i am giving up unconscious consumption.

i want to be conscious of all the things, tangible and spiritual, that i consume throughout my day.  how do i eat up my time?  what kind of media and how much media do i consume?  how am i spending my money?  what am i putting into my body?  what ideas and concepts am i taking in without considering them?

i don’t want to just unconsciously take all of this in.  i want to keep record of, take note on, and consciously make decisions about my consumption.  i want to consider whether these things are wants or needs.  i want to consciously determine whether it’s healthy, whether it’s worth it, how much i want it and how it will affect me.

i’ve read about conscious consumerism, i’ve followed blogs of others who have done something such as this.  i was most intrigued by this very concept in the “bridget jones” books and movie:  bridget kept a record of what she consumed every day.  this keeping record helped her keep herself conscious of what she was taking in.

i don’t want to make this my bridget lent year, but i do want to be conscious again.  i want to make choices, eyes wide open, about what i let in and what i use up.  i have a feeling this will have a profound effect on both my understanding of myself as i am now, as well as a lasting result in what comes Out in days to come.

stay tuned.  i’ll try to give you snippets and thoughts along the way.  



it’s time to rethink what i consume without thinking.

a record of consumption years ago in spain.  (i've been thinking about this for a while, haven't i?)

a record of consumption years ago in spain. (i've been thinking about this for a while, haven't i?)

it’s almost ready

31 January 09


this weekend, massi had to go out of town for work.  i think this was a God thing, a heavenly kick in the pants to get me to focus solely on my book and nothing, i mean nothing, else. it has been a very productive weekend so far and tomorrow should get it completely done.  that is, if i can find the right presentation stuff-papers, binding, you know.  that stuff.  is there anywhere better than kinkos for this kind of thing?  i kind of find their binding and paper options deplorable.  so, before i bore you further with bookmaking details, here’s the stats:

proposal is done, other than a couple technical questions.

sample pages are done, other than one or two pages needing a tiny bit of tweaking.

presentation questions still need to be answered:

how many sample pages does one put in a proposal when it’s not full typed pages?  do you bind the book, or leave it loose?  what kind of paper should i use that will showcase the visual without being plain ol white paper?  can i also share it electronically, and if so how do i maintain the visual integrity?


so many questions, it looks like, i know.  but really, honestly, i’m soooooo close.

take the zarzuela

20 January 09

zarzuela is a traditional catalan dish, and “take the zarzuela” is a possible title for my book.

to celebrate my upcoming completion of my book proposal, i wanted to make it at home.  looking for a recipe online, i came upon this:

“Zarzuela is a Catalan fish dish which can be delicious or a disaster depending on where you eat it or who cooks it. ” 

which, given the reason i want to name my book thus, is too perfect.  “Take the Zarzuela” comes from one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books that I read while living in Catalan.  From James Michener, in Iberia:

snapshot-2009-01-20-18-10-03i must have shown my apprehension, because the waiter said an extraordinary thing:

my friend, if you trust in the goodness of God, take the zarzuela.

such advice i could not ignore, so i nodded, fearing the worst…

….and i had to agree with the waiter that

sometimes the goodness of God must be trusted.


you see, i often don’t know whether or not to trust God in something unknown.  like a zarzuela.  it could turn out really really bad and you just don’t know until you try.  but sometimes, when you try, when you take that chance and choose to trust, something amazingly beautiful can happen.  something that reminds you that despite all the crap, there are the most beautiful things here in this world for us to enjoy.  sometimes the goodness of God must be trusted.

facing the monster

19 January 09


there is a big self-aggrandizing monster staring at me right now. i’ve been letting him win, letting him tell me i can’t finish this damn thing, can’t get to the end, can’t make it work.

and so far, he’s been winning. this book proposal i’m trying to attack has got to be the worst writing i’ve done in my entire life. it’s really, really, horribly awful. right now.

the monster keeps telling me this is just how it is, that it will never get better. keeps telling me that this book i’m trying to get ready to share with the world isn’t worth the paper i want it printed on.


he’s got a lot of balls, this monster.
but i’m sitting here, at the sparrows a.k.a. stray dog, refusing to listen to his nonsense.
the Book Proposal Monster will not beat me.

best garlic in all of spain

best garlic in all of spain

a big pile of books.

11 January 09

when i was a child, my mother had a wise rule for me when we went to the library: i could only check out as many books as i could carry all by myself on the four block walk home. i worked out the best possible way to carry as many books as possible: arms stretched down low, chin jutted out to hold the pile in place. i would waddle home, my arms-length and then some selection of books in front of me, without complaining. if i complained, i couldn’t get as many books next time.

well, i think my husband is starting to heed my mothers’ wisdom. today was a very fruitful day at the library, and i came home with eight books and four cd’s. he made me carry only half, being the gentleman that he is. (note to self: bring a sturdy bag with you next time!)


i know you’re curious, so i’ve finally given in and done the “currently reading” bar along the side of my blog.  we’ll see how well i do at keeping that updated…. if anyone knows how to add an easy widget to the side of a wordpress blog to show you pictures of the books i’m reading, please edumacate me.  in the meantime, here’s a good ol’-fashioned list (in no order whatsoever other than the way they’re sitting on my table):

the revolution will not be microwaved-katz

harvest for hope, a guide to mindful eating-jane goodall

orbiting the giant hairball-mackenzie

grub, ideas for an urban organic kitchen-lappe/terry

everything i want to do is illegal, war stories from the local food front-salatin

encyclopedia of an ordinary life-rosenthal

the circle of simplicity-andrews



and music to go along with it:

felice brothers


songcatcher soundtrack

the secret museum of mankind:  music of north africa 1925-48

oh and!  in case you’re curious, these books were already in stacks around my house and being read as the mood fit:

six thinking hats-de bono

deep economy-mckibben

more-with-less cookbook

creating a life worth living-lloyd

living out loud-smith

the creative license-gregory

and to find out more about what interests me (for those tireless souls who got this far and still want MORE), check out my “book wish list” in the blogroll on the left.  as always, amazon is handy but i highly recommend utilizing your local non-chain bookstore and your library!

i’ll let you know what i think of them!  no guarantees yet, these are the ones that just caught my interest and made their way into my home.  what better way to spend a snowy, cabin-fever kind of winter, right?